THE MANKATO PARK SEEMS, in many ways, an ideal setting for poetry.
The usually playful Minnesota River bumps against the land here, acting on this Saturday afternoon like a willful, unruly child.
On the other side of Riverfront Park, across the tracks, historic buildings stand like forlorn children, neglected, waiting for someone to care.
Overhead, moody skies pout.
I have come here at this late afternoon hour to read the poetry imprinted upon cement. Occasionally the sky spits rain at me as I follow the gray sidewalk which mimics the gray day.
Here, the river rests its elbow
before it turns north to meet
the father of them all.
Here we made 38 mistakes
we now try very hard
not to forget.
The poem by Ikars Sarma of Mankato refers to the hanging of 38 Dakota here on December 26, 1862. A heavy thought to match the heaviness of the sky, the raging of the river, the anger that still simmers over this shameful moment in this city’s history.
I move on.
Susan Stevens Chambers of Good Thunder writes:
Ah the terrible beauty
of the not so perfect
Nearby kids scramble up a rock wall as I struggle to lift my aging bones from the sidewalk where I have bent close to read and photograph Chambers’ poem.
Then I laugh at the words penned by Mankato resident Yvonne Cariveau:
Craving lunchbox love
I slowly open the lid.
Fish smell breaks my heart.
Exactly. I ate too much tuna in this college town between 1976 and 1978. I could write my own poem about cramming tuna sandwiches while cranking out stories at the Mankato State University (I still can’t call it Minnesota State University, Mankato) student newspaper, The Reporter.
Deadlines and words.
Words and deadlines.
Tuna. Words. Deadlines.
Cariveau’s writing reminds me of those years so long ago when I was young and only beginning my journey into the poetry of life.
FOR MORE INFORMATION about Mankato’s public sidewalk poetry, WordWalk, click here and here. At least two other Minnesota cities, of which I am aware, have sidewalk poetry: St. Paul and now Northfield.
WHAT’S YOUR OPINION on sidewalk poetry? Do you like it, or not? Would you like to see more such public poetry in Minnesota communities? Why or why not?
© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling